By: Alice Hedeya And Kelly Jemal Massey
On Wednesday, August 17th, SBH orchestrated a Hesed Mission in memory of my sister, Stephanie Sultan. It’s so fitting that the community chose to commemorate Stephanie with a day built around loving kindness, because she herself was such a naturally generous person.
She was generous with her talent:Both a gourmet and health-conscious cook, she fed whoever walked through her door and whatever she prepared was mouthwateringly delicious.
She was generous with her heart:Offering her friendship to the countless people she met along the course of her life, she was accepting of their choices and appreciative of their company. When placed in a room together these people all seemed very different, but they had one thing in common: They loved Stephanie.
She was generous to her children:Giving of herself completely for their benefit. Her sole mission in life was to be the best mother possible to them, no matter what that required of her. She was their fiercest advocate – the one who understood them best and shown the brightest light upon their achievements.
She was generous with her vocation:She didn’t see jewelry making as a business but as an expression of love, as a way to show those close to her how much they meant to her.
She was generous with her attention: Focusing completely on whoever was telling her a story or asking for her advice. Her responses were always well thought-out and articulated and never failed to provide a clearer perspective. In this way, she was also generous with her mind.
She was generous with her time:A volunteer at both The Morris Franco Cancer Center and The Sephardic Link, Stephanie endeavored to cheer the ill, make harmonious matches, and plant seeds for future generations.
And so, it was apropos that, shortly after she passed away, people between the ages of 16 and 40 came together to do hesed in Stephanie’s memory. We thank Alice Hedeya, who along with Charles Anteby and Danielle Tawil planned the activities. She also, kindly, captured the event for us in writing:
As the Hesed Mission ran from 9:45 am until 4:15 pm, a full day commitment was required. The day began with a tour of the SBH Food Pantry, the largest Kosher food pantry on the Jersey Shore. The food pantry aims to help community members in need, always with the utmost confidentiality and generosity. It services over 100 families weekly, providing fresh produce, basic staples, dairy products, meat, chicken, eggs, toiletries and paper goods. While there, participants made salmon burgers for the pantry, as an ode to Stephanie, who loved to cook healthy food.
The next stop was the Special Children’s Center. Its mission is to provide children and adults who have developmental disabilities with the opportunity to maximize their growth while enhancing their family’s ability to nurture them. Mission goers did beading with the special children, in remembrance of Stephanie, who made and sold handcrafted jewelry.
Soon after, participants traveled by bus to Monmouth Medical, sharing personal stories about Stephanie all the while. At Monmouth Medical, participants circulated the hospital, visiting patients. Before leaving, they purchased a toy mat for a small baby who desperately needed something to play with. It was a tribute to Stephanie, who so lovingly mothered and stimulated her children.
Then, missioners traveled to Lakewood to visit an organization called Chai4Ever.Chai4ever, supports the children of sick parents with a variety of services to help them cope and even flourish during a difficult time in their lives. Their programs offer these kids love and emotional support, homework help, advocacy and school intervention at the hands of educators and therapists. At Chai4Ever, faux flower bouquets were assembled for cancer patients in hospitals. Attached to these flowers was a notecard that read: “Thinking of you. In memory of Stephanie Sultan, A” H.” The activity was such a beautiful way to honor Stephanie, who loved all things in nature and brightened her home with flowers week after week.
Finally, the group returned to the SBH Building in Deal, New Jersey for some closure. Together, they spoke about the day and let out their feelings. Everyone felt that the experience was amazing – truly a zechut to Stephanie and all that made her happy.
Though we miss, and will continue to miss, Stephanie terribly, if we continue in this way, doing good for the sake of others in her memory, we as a community can raise her neshama to the highest echelons of heaven. So please think of my sister whenever you put another person’s needs before your own, and make sure that, whatever you do, you do it with kindness.
Introduction and Conclusion written by Kelly Jemal Massry